Our prosperity basket of indicators looks at the economic wealth of an area and how good it is at providing jobs.
So we measure the value of goods and services produced, average workplace earnings, the number of people employed in knowledge-driven sectors like high-tech manufacturing or finance, the number of large and small businesses and the scale of foreign investment.
A tale of the cities
The prosperity map of England is dominated by London and the South East, with these two regions claiming all top 20 places in the ranking. London boroughs occupy ranks one to nine, led by the central boroughs of Westminster, Tower Hamlets and Camden. In the wider South East, the most prosperous areas are in traditional economic centres such as Slough, Crawley, Reading, Milton Keynes and Guildford.
Across the country, prosperity is the domain of cities, with Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge and Birmingham all performing in the top 20% of areas nationally. In every case, this prosperity extends beyond the city boundary to a larger metropolitan or city region. So, in the top 20% you also find Birmingham’s neighbour Solihull, Manchester’s neighbour Trafford and Cambridge’s neighbour South Cambridgeshire, to name but three.
By contrast, there are large parts of the country where prosperity is low. In the North East, no areas rank in the top 20% nationally. In the South West, nearly half (47%) of areas rank in the bottom 20% nationally. For the East Midlands and North West, it is a third (35% and 36% respectively), and for Yorkshire, one in five (19%).
Mind the gap
There are also pockets where prosperity is low despite the success of neighbouring areas. For example, while London dominates the highest ranks, four boroughs rank in the bottom 40% nationally, with one ranking in the bottom 20%. Four areas in the South East also rank in the bottom 20% nationally. The scale of the gap between these areas and their more prosperous neighbours magnifies the challenges around prosperity.
Our findings underline the role of strong, sustainable and productive economic growth in driving prosperity and highlight the need for better economic development in a number of regions. However, focusing on prosperity and driving economic growth is not enough. Both need to be considered alongside the full range of other factors needed to create genuinely vibrant economies.